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Election Day is around the corner.  How do you feel about your choices? 

We can argue, debate and strategize what to do around elections, like the one this Tuesday (...and we do!).  Vote red, vote blue, hold your nose and vote damage control, vote green or abstain.  We act indignant and outraged as if this election is somehow unique in history for being subject to compromise.  

What might we do to feel, and be, more empowered in the electoral/governance process that drives our states and countries?

What other choices in your life do you, or have you, given up on or put in the hands of others? .

Describe a time you took your power of personal choice back. 

Read more and add to the conversation here ...

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thank you Shika... I've been waiting for you to speak. I like your example of smoking and being unable to see what is clear and what is bias.

You're welcome, Dyck. Thanks.

Jerry, even though you did not respond to a single point in my previous reply to you, I will copy and respond to every single point you make,

J: "Mark: If the non-voters would vote, we would have the largest party around. If in fact most elections have 67% of the eligible  that leaves 37&. That my friend is the majority plus some that would switch parties. We will never reach them if we do not lead the way"

Jerry, If you were running for President, there was 100% voter turnout, and every single voter voted for you, your Democratic or Republican opponent could appeal to the Supreme Court and they would intervene, and since the Constitution does not require that the popular vote be counted, they could ignore the election results, as they did in 2000, and select one of your opponents to be President, so as not to hurt his feelings, which was one of the excuses they used to put Bush in office even though Gore won the popular vote. Before you vote, it might be wise to learn a little bit about how our electoral process actually works.

J: "To abstain is almost criminal, if you consider the blood that has been shed to keep it possible for every one to vote. The Civil War stuck way to many in the ground to not vote."

You seem to misunderstand. People fought, shed blood, and died for the right to a voice in government; nobody shed blood for an uncounted vote for representatives who couldn't be compelled to represent their constituents instead of their big donors.

J: "If we want to occupy something, why not the ballot counters. That would keep them honest. Put a couple of people out front with clickers and compare the numbers."

The ballot counters cannot be occupied, Jerry. Once the local districts have "counted" the votes, they will send their local results to a private computer corporation in Spain for the final tally. You cannot "occupy" the proprietary software in a private corporation's computers to see if it is programmed to count the votes accurately or to flip them around and manipulate them for a desired result. If you'd read my comments, you'd know that before becoming a boycott advocate I spent six years as an election integrity activist, observing elections, doing research on election codes and laws, filing public records requests, and bringing litigation to attempt to ensure that our votes would be counted and counted accurately. If you would spend two months doing the same thing, you'd know that it is impossible to occupy the ballot counters.

J: "We do not have a constitution that sets up any parties. WE the PEOPLE have the POWER to bring this country to its knees if we wanted to."

What we do have are two parties in power who won't even allow third parties into their debates and hold a majority in Congress. Many people thought they had the power to bring the country to its knees and they learned that they didn't even have the power to force the Republican Party to give the candidate with the most votes, Ron Paul, a shot at the nomination. But you can still write him in if you think doing so will bring the country to its knees.

J: "Let's declare another vote, this time on the issues. Let's invite every American to come vote. Count those votes and take them to the news channels. First WE have to wake up, quit fighting over peanut shells and get down to business."

Please read Votescam: The Stealing of America, by James and Kenneth Collier, published in 1992. In 1970 Ken ran for office with Jim as his campaign manager. They lost, but they managed to find documented evidence, proof positive that the election had been stolen. So they took it to the media. Not a single news outlet would touch it. You're reinventing the square wheel.

J: "You have never read Atlas Shrugged, one of the three best books ever written and you have not read it. You need to spend a little time in the MAIN stream and quit wading puddles. Stay with facts, not theories."

Sorry, Jerry, but Libertarians are a fringe group, not mainstream like Democrats and Republicans. I don't need to read the book of a woman who died on welfare to know that her bullshit was bullshit.

J: "Not in my neighborhood, what ever happened to peaceful demonstrations over things planned."

Thousands of them have been arrested and now have police records. Some were brutally beaten and will remain crippled for life.

J: "Take a trip to city planning meetings, they are open to the public."

I used to do that so frequently that I could hardly walk down the street without people recognizing me from the cable broadcasts of City Council, County Board of Supervisors, Board of Education, and other cable broadcasts of planning meetings. When our City Manager appointed one of the most corrupt elections officials in the country to be our Assistant Registrar of Voters, dozens of election integrity activists went to City Hall to protest. When my turn came, I pointed out that the corrupt official had publicly stated that he saw nothing wrong with manipulating the recount to match the machine count, so he didn't know right from wrong and wasn't even fit to stand trial, no less hold public office. After we'd all spoken, the City Manager, Walt Eckard, said, "I've listened to you, I've heard you, and I disagree. So that's that."

J: "Does ONE ever have any power?"

Yes. I've personally witnessed one lone person, albeit someone with a hard gaze, a steely tone, and a lot of community cred, break up a violent mob.

J: "That is why I encourage people to vote. If we do not hang together, we shall certainly hang separately."

If you hang together by hanging on to a system where your votes don't have to be counted, you'll be hung together.

J: "If your rights are tied up in me note voting, you should be winning now. 37% do not vote, ever. What have they accomplished. Please list some benefits please."

In a successful election boycott, a majority refuse to vote, demonstrating that the government does not have the consent of the governed and no longer represents the will of the people. That's what happened in Italy a week ago, when voter turnout decreased from 67% in the previous election to only 47% on Sunday. The government was discredited and international agencies lowered Italy's credit rating. I've written about it above, not that you'll ever read anything I post. You're still hung up on welfare queen Ayn Rand.

J: "Look backwards in history, see what worked, repeat as needed."

You're a Marine? You think that because wars used to be won with elephants, they can still be won that way today?

J: "Too many names of past leaders to list them all here. But there were a list of them that stayed the course until this country changed in some way.  By the way we could go out and have a drink over that statement. My wife and I both voted this year. Another victory for involvement."

Really? The only changes I know of are that we now have more Black prison labor than we had Black slave labor before Abolition, that we now have more wars of aggression based on lies than ever before, and that our economy is now more unstable than it was before the Great Depression and we have greater disparity of income.

J: "BY the BY, my grandson also voted. And two granddaughters. Plus my black buddy."

Goldman Sachs thanks you.

J: "Just because you were born in the garage, does not make you a ford. A lot of people have BAD attitudes. I get one myself ever now and then."

So just because I won't obey your wish that I waste another few decades voting (I'm 72 and was a voter for most of my adult life), I have a bad attitude? I'm your fellow citizen, not your subordinate, Jerry. Get over it.

J: "It does not make a difference your party, it is your disposition. Withdrawal is a symptom of a few things as well. List to long to publish here."

Of course what party you vote for doesn't make a difference, since Goldman Sachs is guaranteed to win either way. I'm not a political party hack, I'm an Election Boycott activist, and I'm not in withdrawal, I'm very much involved.

J: "Your mind is very active, you would make an excellent leader, just find some thing you hold a steady feeling about and keep on talking. Get out and join groups. Share opinions with as many people as you can. We might make a difference yet."

I'm active in the Election Boycott Movement and we share our opinion with as many people as we can, hoping that we can make a difference. But I don't want to be a leader. You're old enough to have known people who refused to go to Officer Candidate School or refused promotions from worker to management because they didn't like the hierarchical bureaucracy. You probably don't like it yourself, but can't imagine anything else, so all you can do is try to work within it instead of attempting to create a non-hierarchical, non-bureaucratic system, like the one Abraham Lincoln referred to when he spoke of "government of the people, by the people, and for the people."

I knocked down every argument you made in your previous post, Jerry, and everyone could see it except you. Thrusting yourself repeatedly into the breach when you don't have a leg to stand on, looks foolish rather than courageous. If you won't read what I've posted and won't respond directly to anything I write, please don't waste any more of my time with your sophomoric cliches. Thanks.

Pulled-in to say... 

Lest in the abyss of meaninglessness... words, intellect as well as all human acts are the servants of kindness. 

"The moment one thinks himself either lessor or more than another, the wine glass is quickly broken." Rumi & me.

Indeed, Dyck. 

I knocked down every argument you made in your previous post, Jerry, and everyone could see it except you. Thrusting yourself repeatedly into the breach when you don't have a leg to stand on, looks foolish rather than courageous. If you won't read what I've posted and won't respond directly to anything I write, please don't waste any more of my time with your sophomoric cliches. Thanks.

This really crosses a line, Mark.  As I have indicated to you before, we are striving to create a culture in this Cafe where which judgment of others is not accepted.   In addition, we have suggested that our purpose is not to argue with one another, and that the quality of our relationships takes precedence over the ideas we wish to convey..  This culture is intact for the most part, it seems to me.  But your words, and your choice to be the dominant voice in this thread both through the frequency and the length of your posts, are not in keeping with it.

Despite that, you'll notice that may people have been quite gracious towards you, acknowledging that you make some very interesting points, and agreeing with much of the way in which you describe what you see in the world, even if they are not persuaded to join you in boycotting the election.  I think we all appreciate your passion and your keen sense of history and context.  For my part, though I will vote for Obama tomorrow and will root for him enthusiastically, your points are also in my mind (although they were there even before this exchange, and your repetition of them and argumentative tone led me to choose not to engage with you after a while).

I would love to see us come away from this exchange having learned something collectively about what works and what does not in this setting for dialogue so that we can engage together more generatively going forward.

Let me add that, while I think Mark has taken a special role in this conversation, I am not trying to suggest that he is the only one who chooses at times to be judgmental or argumentative.  To varying degrees, I expect we all struggle with this and cross the line more often that we might care to admit.  For example, Jerry's posts to Mark contained some provocatively judgmental words as well.

AND... as we move into our theme of GIFTS for this week, I am reminded of Peter Block's words:

When we look at deficiencies, we strengthen them. What you see is what you get. When you label or  name me arrogant or quietly aggressive, which I am, that is what you are going to get. In this way, the focus on gifts is a practical stance, not a moral one. What do you want from me—my deficiencies or my capacities?

So I propose that we wrap this discussion up in that vein, perhaps with some forgiveness to start, followed by an acknowledgment of gifts.

For my part, I appreciate the gift of passion and caring and commitment that the energy here has represented.  And I appreciate the choice all of you made to bring that energy here to the Cafe.  It has brought precious life to this place.

Ben, when you use the word 'choice' when you say we choose to be judgmental, etc.. it doesn't hold water in my own bucket of 'knowing'.  I feel it's propulsion that brings this kind of behavior.  And this is very very very very challenging to change... I don't have to sing that to the choir.

Here's my construct.  Authentic or innocent behavior (uncontrived & unconditioned) is not thinking or will but natural... reflecting all I have in me.  Behavior, including speaking, expresses itself so I have the opportunity to see it for myself and to learn from it............ ................... ...................... ................ .................. ................ ................ .............. .............. .................. ................. ..................... ................. ................... ............. ................ .............. .............. ................ ............ when I'm ready. (hard to imagine how others will give me elbow room I need for this)

I guess I'm not totally clear on the distinction of "propulsion" versus choice, Dyck.  Especially in a written medium like this one, where we can look over our words before we share them. You are supporting any exchange that is "natural,... unconditioned and uncontrived." For my part, at age 51, I can't imagine what an "unconditioned" communication from me might be.  

It does seems clear to me that the culture of this Cafe, if there is to be one that has life and power in it, must be a conscious co-creation of those who choose (yes, choose!) to engage here.  And I am requesting that we consent to the notion that that culture be based on creating hospitable space for anyone who chooses to participate, seeking to be in relationship with them, and refraining from making judgments and demands of them.

I think the challenge lies at the intersection of the cultures we are each describing, Dyck.  You are yearning for a place to be "authentic,... reflecting all you have in you."  I LOVE that!  And I love YOU when you bring that here, as you do so often.  AND I think we can have such a space and yet refrain from giving voice to our judgments, and even learning to let go of them and to have fewer of them (as I believe you described doing yourself, just last week).

Perhaps in some ways, this challenge is a powerful fractal of the larger Shift many of us seek in the world. Our New Story is one where we recognize our interconnectedness as one human family. Thus, as this community put it so well in the Declaration you were so instrumental in crafting, Dyck:

-we declare that everyone must have an opportunity to participate.  All voices are heard and considered.  My neighbors’ needs are my needs and my neighbors are global;  therefore everyone’s needs must be met in order to thrive as a global society.

-we declare trust in our universal humanity and recognition of our capability to transcend fear, and function from compassion and love...

We declare our commitment to these points by working together in solidarity...  

Ben, you say you want a culture where, "...the quality of our relationships takes precedence over the ideas we wish to convey."

But you also say that you will vote for Obama.

How does supporting the man who has eliminated due process, help to create that culture? How does voting in an election which you hope will grant Obama your personal and enthusiastic consent to continue to have the right to detain or kill any US citizen without due process, demonstrate respect for others and improve the quality of our relationships?

Dyck quoted Rumi: "The moment one thinks himself either lessor or more than another, the wine glass is quickly broken." Rumi & me."

Obviously you think Obama more than yourself and more than all other people in the US, or you wouldn't be happily voting for him. Even though he not only broke his promise to shut Guantanamo, but also retained in Guantanamo prisoners who the Bush administration had admitted were mistakenly imprisoned there and were totally innocent of any crime or any association with Al Queda. Yet you seem to feel that Obama has the moral superiority to judge which citizens should be imprisoned or killed without due process. You're apparently not holding your nose and voting for the lesser evil, you're enthusiastically voting for a man you see as being essentially good and trustworthy.

One of those young men, one whom the Bush administration had admitted was totally innocent but had refused to release, recently died in Guantanamo, as Obama had also refused to release him. Of course it may appear dangerous to release people you've subjected to torture despite knowing all along that they were totally innocent and were imprisoned by mistake, as they might have become bitter and might seek revenge--I can understand that fear.

I have done bad things in my life. But I was able to stop doing most bad things. I didn't feel that just because I had done something wrong, I had to keep doing it. And I didn't feel that I had to pretend that wrong was right. Personally, I couldn't vote for anyone who has done bad things and not only won't admit it, but insists on continuing to do bad things. I don't think that war, torture, and the elimination of due process, improve the quality of our relationships.

But again, as Pawel pointed out and I noted in another comment there may be reasons beyond my ken.

The culture I'm speaking of, Mark, is the culture of this Cafe.  And I would like it to be one where however one votes of does not vote has no bearing on our ability to be in relationship, because we choose to make connecting with one another a priority. 

Do you not see that by voting for someone who has asserted the legal right to imprison or kill me, you, or any other US citizen without trial, Ben, you are limiting the right and possibility of people participating in this Cafe?

I have to admit that I don't making connecting with everyone a priority. I have no wish to connect with child molesters, fascists, or people who commit crimes against humanity, I feel that those who vote to give another human being the right to imprison or kill me without a trial, have no respect for me and are not choosing to connect with me, they wish only to take away my civil and human rights,. I have to struggle with myself to even bring myself to try to interact respectfully with those who choose to deny my civil and human rights.

Denying my civil and human rights is not the way to strengthen a relationship with me.

I do feel that voting to take away the civil and human rights of others has every bearing on our ability to be in relationship.


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